The Awakening (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 4 Old 01-16-2013, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Universal - 2011
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 108 minutes
Genre: Horror/thriller

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Dominic West, Imelda Staunton
Directed by: Nick Murphy
Music by: Daniel Pemberton
Written by: Stephen Volk & Nick Murphy
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 29, 2013

"All the children are gone…except one"

Film Synopsis:

They say the boy was scared to death. When the death of a child at a boarding school is blamed on a ghost, hoax exposer Florence Cathcart is certain that science and reason can explain it. But the truth she discovers is more terrifying than she could ever imagine, and soon the ghost hunter becomes the hunted.

My Take:

Set in London in 1921, Florence Cathcart (Rebecca Hall), author of the popular book "Seeing Through Ghosts," has devoted her career to exposing claims of the supernatural as nothing but hoaxes. Haunted by the recent death of her fiancé, she is approached by Robert Mallory (Dominic West) an instructor at an all-boys boarding school in the country, requesting that she investigate the recent death of a student. Robert advises that students at the school have reported sightings of a young boy's ghost, which prompts Florence to take on the case. Initially, the mystery surrounding the ghost appears nothing more than a schoolboy prank, but as Florence continues to investigate events at the school, she begins to believe that her reliance on science may not be enough to explain the strange phenomenon going on around her.

The trailer for The Awakening didn’t inspire me to want to see it. It appeared to be a period paint by the numbers investigative horror story. While it did turn out to be more formulaic than not, the storyline is told in a layer peeling fashion that does a nice job of building suspense. There are elements of mystery and drama that offset the components of horror as the narrative builds toward its culminating finale which has a few twists that you may or may not see coming. When all was said and done I found it to be an engaging, well enacted thriller/chiller that probably won’t raise goose bumps among devout genre fans but makes for a decent way to spend an evening when you’re in the mood for something a little dark.

Parental Guide:

The rating is for some violence and sexuality/nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109945&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Video: 86

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

The Awakening comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.

This film has an intentionally stylized visual design that utilizes a muted color scheme that works aesthetically well for the film’s theme and setting. The color palette is deliberately held to primary use of black, grays, whites, soft browns and pale blues intended to replicate the time period depicted in the story. Fleshtones hold up nicely against the de-saturated chroma and don’t appear unnatural. Uneven light and shading are prevalent. Contrast is spot on which empowers whites and grays without washing away detail. Whites are punchy and grays are multi-staged and deep. This is a high bitrate encoding that offers stable resolution that effectively renders the film’s beautiful cinematography and shooting locations. I find the quality of the video to be high. It isn’t always razor sharp but it’s cleanly rendered with plenty of subtle refinement and delineation that enhances depth and reveals fine detail in objects, clothing, and physical features. Blacks aren’t inky in depth but are gradationally revealing which combines with excellent detail in low light and shadowy backgrounds to provide a strong sense of dimension.

I think this is a well designed lossless audio presentation that plays well to the film’s thematic tone. It effectively uses the entire sound field to elicit reaction to sounds emanating from differing vantage points and off screen cues. The soundtrack’s recorded elements are enhanced by its rich clarity, and punchy dynamics that resonate through the room with tangible authority. Dialogue through the center channel is crystal clear and maintains a position of prominence within the front soundstage. The beautifully crafted music permeates the listening area with its light instrumentation and superlative tonal balance. This surround mix capably handles the subtle intricacies thrown at by this excellent soundtrack as it augments the enjoyment of this film.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Deleted scenes with introduction by director Nick Murphy – 28 minutes

  • (HD) A time for ghosts – 24 minute featurette

  • (HD) Anatomy of a scene: Florence and the lake – 15 minute featurette

  • (HD) Anatomy of a scream – 17 minute featurette

  • (HD) Behind the scenes – 36 minute featurette

  • (HD) Extended interview with Nick Murphy – 19 minutes

  • My scenes bookmark feature

Final Thoughts:

Watching The Awakening I couldn’t help but be reminded of similar genre films like “The Others” and “The Orphanage”. I wouldn’t say that it resonates as deeply however it’s an engaging, well enacted thriller/chiller that makes for a decent way to spend an evening when you’re in the mood for something a little dark. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits and supplemental material that offers a look behind the scenes that includes plenty of insights from the filmmakers/cast. This is good one time viewing that easily worth the cost of a rental.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Reference Review System:

JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package

Ralph C. Potts
Blu-ray Reviewer
My Home Theater
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post #2 of 4 Old 01-18-2013, 02:47 PM
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I actually enjoyed this movie very much. It is much better than the typical Hollywood cookie-cutter horror flicks we see 90% of the time. I think it is well worth a rent. The use of LFE was also very well done in places and sets the right mood.

Next on my list to watch is "The Orphanage"....I am looking forward to the 7.1 lossless soundtrack!
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post #3 of 4 Old 01-24-2013, 12:59 PM
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Great review. I've never even hear of this film. I will check it out. Thanks.
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post #4 of 4 Old 03-01-2013, 07:05 AM
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Great Blu-Ray and movie! Much more adult than the endless zombies and Southern scum vampires that make up cable and movie horror flix today. Rebecca Hall is major league! Only minues are the extras. The director (who does a good job with the movie) can't shut up during the interviews.
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